Matthew Chapter 24
VERSE 25-27 continued, “See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. “For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.”
“Our Lord furnished us a most beautiful illustration of the manner in which his presence will be revealed, when he said, "As the bright-shining emerges from the east, and illuminates even unto the west, so will be the presence of the Son of man." (Matt. 24:27)
That most translations of this verse are faulty in using the word lightning, where sunlight is meant, is evident; for lightning flashes do not come out of the east and shine unto the west. They just as frequently come from other quarters, and rarely, if ever, flash clear across the heavens.
The Lord's illustration, and the only one which will comport with his words, is the sun's brightness, which does invariably emerge from the east and shine even unto the west. The Greek word astrape, here used, is thus shown to be improperly translated in this text, and also in the account of the same words by Luke (17:24). Another instance of the use of this word astrape by our Lord is found in Luke 11:36, where it applies to the brightness of a candle, and in the common version is rendered "bright-shining."
Incorrect ideas of the manner of our Lord's coming and revealing, firmly fixed in the minds of translators, led them into this error of translating astrape by the word "lightning." They supposed that he would be revealed suddenly, like a flash of lightning, and not gradually, like the dawning sunlight. But how beautiful is the figure of sunrise, as illustrating the gradual dawning of truth and blessing in the day of his presence. The Lord associates the over-comers with himself in this figure, saying, "Then shall the righteous shine forth as the Sun in the Kingdom of their Father." And the Prophet, using the same figure, says, "The Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams."
The dawning is gradual, but finally the full, clear brightness shall thoroughly banish the darkness of evil, ignorance, superstition and sin.
An imperfect translation of the word Parousia has further tended to obscure the sense of this passage. In the Emphatic Diaglott and in Professor Young's translation it is rendered presence; in Rotherham's it is arrival; while in the common version it is rendered coming. And though the text of the Revised Version retains this last erroneous rendering--coming-- yet in the marginal reading it acknowledges "presence" to be the true definition of the Greek.
The Greek word Parousia invariably signifies personal presence, as having come, having arrived; and it should never be understood as signifying to be on the way, as the English word coming is generally used. The text under consideration therefore teaches that as the sunlight gradually dawns, so shall the presence of the Son of man be gradually manifested or revealed.
Together with this illustration, our Lord coupled words of caution to guard us against certain errors which would be advanced about the time of his second advent, calculated to lead his Church astray.
"Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore, if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the bright shining [sun] cometh out of the east and [gradually] shines even unto the west so shall be the presence of the Son of man."
Thus does our Lord put us on guard against two errors rapidly growing in our day.
The first error is the claim that our Lord will come in the flesh, in the wilderness or desert of Palestine; and, so believing, many have gone thither, and are waiting to see Jesus in the flesh, with the scars, as when crucified. Expecting him as he was, and not "as he is," they seriously err, and blind themselves to the truth, as did the Jews at the first advent.
These false expectations lead this class to interpret literally the statement of the prophet (Zech. 14:4), "His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives," etc. Blinded by false expectations, they do not see that the "feet" in this passage are figurative, as truly as in Psa. 91:12; Isa. 52:7; Psa. 8:6; 110:1; Eph. 6:15; Deut. 33:3; and in many other passages. If they knew what to expect, they would know not to go to Jerusalem to look for the man Christ Jesus; for the highly exalted king comes as the sunlight, making his presence and influence felt the world over. Wherefore, "Go not forth."
Thus so many are found looking to the skies these attempting to force a literal interpretation on our Lord’s words found in Revelation 1:7, where it reads, "Behold, he comes with clouds; and every eye shall see him." The book of Revelation is clearly stated to be a symbolic prophecy not a literal statement of facts. For more on this particular verse please see The Study of Revelation Part 33.
The second error: "If they shall say, Behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not." Spiritism, ever ready to deceive by counterfeits, and ever ready to use advanced truths as a garment of light (2 Cor. 11:13, 14), has not hesitated to claim that we are in a period of dispensational change, the dawning of a glorious age. Among other such things, some of them even teach that Christ is present, and, we doubt not, ere long they will give séances at which they will claim to show him in the secret chambers. Should the error present itself in this form, or any other, let us remember our Lord's words and repudiate all such claims as false, knowing that not thus will he reveal his presence, but "as the sunlight," emerging gradually-- "the Sun of righteousness shall arise with healing in his beams." (B155-158)
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